This topic last updated, October 21 - 2016
XD Falcon Scratch Build V2
-- About The XD Ford Falcon --
In April 1979 the Movie Mad Max hit the screens in Australia featuring the now famous XB Falcon Coupe, meanwhile, two weeks earlier Ford Australia was preparing for the release of the 4th Generation Falcon, with the first XD built on March 28th.
Designed by Wayne Draper it was the first model completely designed in Australia from a clean sheet, despite the European styling bearing a resemblance to the UK’s Granada both vehicles shared no panels, components or drivetrain, with them both just following Ford’s new styling theme for vehicles outside of America.
Design work on the XD started in the early 70’s, initially it was just front and rear quarter restyles of the 3rd Generation Falcon but as styling progressed the designers broke away from the old model’s ‘coke bottle’ styling and embraced the more conservative squared off lines from European vehicles.
- XD Falcon Number 1 with Fred Herr, Ted Gardner, Edsel Ford and Plant Manager Phil Staley
In the Mid 70’s Ford Australia got some insider Intel that GM-H had intentions to kill off their large Kingswood model and replace it with a smaller car based on a European Opel model, with the World Oil Crisis not improving and Holden downsizing their next offerings Ford had to make a choice, Follow Holden’s downsizing and replace the Falcon with a smaller car, or stay big and try ride out the storm.
With work already underway on the XD, Ford decided to ride it out and go big one more time, but with Ford being able to size up their new Holden competitor years before release (With it being based on the Opel Rekord, but using local Holden Engines) They knew the brief for the XD had changed, managing director Sir Brian Inglis lobbied Detroit for further funding above the initial outlay for the XD.
With Detroit approving the extra spending, every component on the Falcon was up for review, the car was to go on an extensive diet, if there was a lighter alternative Ford begun immediate investigations into it, They heard of a Porsche race car with a plastic fuel tank, a new Electronic Instrument Cluster by VDO and various new Plastics that could be suited to components on the Falcon, all based in Germany, local designers and engineers flew out to Germany meeting up with these companies and working on implementing these new ideas into the Falcon.
As these new parts begun to fit into their place on the Falcon it was realized that the Plastics Plant at Broadmeadows would need to be expanded, so again further spending was approved by Detroit to more than double the Plastics Plant and order all this new equipment to produce these parts, Bumpers, Dashboards, Fuel Tanks, Head Restraints, Steering Wheels and many other parts were now Plastic for the first time, and all were produced in different ways, by the time the Plastics Plant was ready for the XD, it was the largest and most complex plastics factory in the southern hemisphere.
In Mid 1976 ADR27a (Australia Design Rule) took effect, it was the first standard for Exhaust Emissions on automobiles, Most vehicles available in Australia at the time did not meet this new standard, Holden like most other companies added emissions control devices and de-tuned the engines which then ran rough and lost a lot of their power, In 1972 Ford Engineers at Geelong in secrecy begun work on a Proper Solution, the problem, uneven fuel flow and fuel/air mix between cylinders, they developed several concepts of moving the intake manifold to the other side of the engine to the exhaust manifold creating a ‘CrossFlow’ design as it was dubbed, being that the fuel would cross flow through the cylinders.
With management now aware of the new engine designs, they gave the engineers approval to continue development as it looked promising that they could meet the new emissions standards and not lose power or performance, as soon as designs were completed tooling commenced and numerous 6’s and V8’s were built to the modified designs, not having the resources for running in and testing they fit the engines to Ford staff lease vehicles and they were driven around for a number of weeks unaware of the changes to the engine, as problems with the new designs showed up it was back to the drawing board, evaluate the issues, and test again.
With the XC Falcon update due to launch just days before the new emissions standards came into effect, and with 4 weeks til the launch it almost became a reality that Ford would have no engines to meet the design rule standards, with just a couple weeks left to spare, the new design for the 6’s and V8’s passed all tests, not only did they meet the new emission standards, they ran smoother, were slightly more fuel efficient and did not lose any power over the old engine, unlike the Holden Kingswood which ran rougher, used more fuel and lost power to meet the new standards.
Late in 1978 Holden launched the VB model Commodore, initially they planned on just using the Opel Body for the vehicle and using their own engines as a low cost way to develop a new model, but early in their testing on country Australian roads the Commodore/Rekord literally snapped in half, driving over the common rough country roads caused the vehicle to snap in half at the firewall, when the GM-H engineers relayed this back to Germany and asked the Opel Engineers to make sure the cars were built stronger for them, they were told back, perhaps you should just build better roads to drive on, with less than 1/3 of Australia’s roads being sealed asphalt they needed to re-engineer the car.
It is estimated that at the time Holden spent more than $110 Million dollars on re-engineering the Commodore, with what was supposed to be an off the shelf cheap solution, it left them with no money to revise the engine lineup, what little money they did have to work on the engines was spent cutting two cylinders off of their straight 6 engine to make the ‘starfire 4’ nicknamed the ‘missfire 4’ by Australians due to its rough running and poor reputation. Ironically Ford’s XD Falcon was developed for just under $100 Million dollars and was essentially a whole new car, sharing only the new suspension and engine lineup introduced on the XC, and of course, the Floor Pan, which was carried over from the first 1960 Falcon until the last one in 2016, obviously with changes made throughout the years, but no Falcon ever had a completely new one.
Come November 1978 Holden launched the Commodore, feeling overly confident they thought the market was all theirs, knowing Ford had stuck with the big heavy Falcon, what they didn’t know was how extensive the makeover and weight reduction program on the XD was. Just as the Commmodore launched and with the Falcon preparing for a March release in the new year, Ford commissioned Honda of Japan to investigate and produce an Aluminium Alloy Head for Falcon 6’s based on the new CrossFlow design, it wouldn’t be ready for the XD launch, but it meant they would hopefully have it ready for a 1980 launch, assuming that once the XD went on sale Holden would see the extent of Ford’s challenge to their Commodore and be preparing a 1980 update to fight back.
Ford’s XD Falcon was released, boasting European styling and world class engineering, it was the first mass produced vehicle in the world to have a plastic fuel tank, the Electronic Instrument Cluster was unlike that found on any other cheap family car in the world, it may seem commonplace now to have electronic circuit boards, warning lights and such in Instrument Clusters but in 1979 the only other cars with them were some of the top models from BMW, but most importantly there was the option of a new Ute and Panel van, with the Commodore only available in Sedan and Wagon, and Holden dragging a few more years out of their Kingswood Ute dating back to the early 70’s.
Although the new Falcon was still heavier than the Commodore, being a larger car it was to be expected, it still shed over 115Kg from its weight over the outgoing XC and that alone improved the road handling and fuel economy was up by 10%, even despite being a larger and heavier vehicle the Falcon with a 3.3L or the 4.1L Straight 6 CrossFlow got better economy than the Commodore with its 3.3L 6cyl or 4cyl Starfire engines, and that was before the new Alloy Head 6’s were introduced the follow year which shed a further 25Kg from the weight over the front wheels and improved power and economy further.
Despite widespread criticisms at launch that a big Falcon was the wrong move with buyers worldwide trending towards smaller cars Ford was defiant that it had made the right choice, and Falcon sales backed them up, bucking the trend worldwide in Australia the Falcon’s large car sales actually improved while sales of small and medium size vehicles declined, despite this in the 1980 Wheels Magazine Car Of The Year award they withheld the award, depicting a large lemon with wheels on the cover, announcing ‘No Car of the Year!’ which really pissed off Edsel Ford who was working in the Australian Operations at the time and was part of the XD program, with him saying it was a cheap shot to sell magazines, never the less Ford was applauded by their response in which they took out a full page advertisement in the next issue of Wheels Magazine depicting 31 lemons labeled with all the vehicles entered into the COTY awards and put the headline “There are times when being a lemon is not a bitter experience at all”
The XD proved to be a sound investment for Ford by mid-1981 they were leading the market and if the momentum kept up the XD would help Ford achieve a goal that seemed so far out of reach at launch but with every week seemed to become a little more realistic, Snatching the No.1 title away from GM. It seemed like they would be unstoppable, with production stepping up more staff were hired for the Broadmeadows Assembly plant, unbeknown to Ford several of the new hires’ joined with ulterior motives, they wanted to overthrow the current leaders of the Federal and State Automotive Union, gaining support of the workforce with false rumors they spread about the Union Leaders they got the plant staff to go out on strike without approval from the union, With it not being an official strike Ford identified the ring leaders and sacked them, and without it being an official strike they could not claim it was unfair dismissal over the strike and the union was not going to help them either, despite this the strike carried on for another 6 weeks and Fords chances for taking No.1 out this year were all but over.
With the XD handing the reigns over to the XE in 1982 things started to come together for Ford, the new Ford Laser and Meteor had come online at the Sydney Assembly plant, replacing the TF Cortina which finished up at Broadmeadows the previous year, as Holden prepared to launch their new Camira and Gemini to combat Laser/Meteor they reduced production volumes of their other models to ramp up production of the Camira, which proved to be a disaster, the market took off and they were caught short, unable to build enough Commodores, meanwhile they launched the Camira which flopped.
Ford’s volumes just continued to climb with overtime running constantly at all the plants, by October Ford was leading by 6,000 vehicles, by the end of November it was 5,000, Holden was discounting the Commodore and recently released Camira to shift them, they were doing anything to try and regain the lead, in December the Dandenong registry office (With Holden having an Assembly Plant in Dandenong) registered over 2,600 vehicles in one day, GM-H maintained that they were all employee lease vehicles, GM-H then increased dealer discounts and suddenly registration rates doubled, Holden dealers were registering vehicles, but not selling them, Holden was doing anything to try and save there unbroken 30 year leadership, they were registering vehicles almost as soon as they rolled out the assembly plants.
In the Final days Ford was leading by only a couple hundred vehicles, Then on January 21, 1983, the final numbers were in, Ford – 139,318, Holden – 139,181, Ford claimed the lead ahead by 137 vehicles, but actual vehicle sales tell a different story, while the Ford holding yards were empty, only holding vehicles that were just produced that day, the Holden yards at their plants had over 6,000 unsold vehicles, not only did Ford beat them, they thrashed them. Ford was selling the cars faster than they could build them, Holden was building cars they could not sell, Ford held the No.1 spot for the next 16 years.
The 1980’s went down as the best time for Ford in Australia, in 1985 the Falcon celebrated its 25th Anniversary as well as 1.5 Million built, the Broadmeadows plant also set a new Australian production record, being the first with production exceeding 100,000 vehicles in one year, then with the record of over 170,000 vehicle built at the one plant in one year. In 1989 the 2 Millionth Falcon was built, it had taken 25 years to build the first 1.5 Million then in less than 5 years they built another half a million, not only had Ford proven that it made the right decision a decade earlier with the XD, it showed that the Australian operations could design and build a world class car on a shoe string budget and take on competitors from around the world….. and Win!
-- March 1979, XD Falcon Number 1 rolls off the Broadmeadows Production Line
The Ute & Van… That almost didn’t happen.
In the 70’s, Attending a series of project approvals meetings in Dearborn where Ford Australia was in danger of losing the XD Ute and Van. Detroit wanted full accounting costs and profits by model. The Australian’s knew the business case for the commercial models did not stand up to this scrutiny, and losing the commercials could jeopardise the whole XD program and the future of the Falcon. The meeting spent the whole first day analysing the Sedan and Wagon costs, then the meeting was adjourned to the following day to continue the review of the commercial models business case. The following day the Australian’s piled binders several feet high onto the table in front of the Executives as supporting documentation for the project. Eyeing off the piles of binders in front of them and wanting to keep the meeting brief, they signed off on the development of the whole XD Falcon program, not wishing to be sitting through what was looking like an extensive and long presentation, which was a relief for the Australian’s, had the Ford Executives bothered to open the binders and look through them they would have realised most of the binders on the table were Dearborn phone directories they re-covered to look like Ford Project Binders.
-- The Earliest XD designs date to a clay model from mid 1975 (Not Pictured)
-- Based on the XC Ute this model below is styled different on each side to compare ideas
-- Skipping ahead through a few other prototype designs we reach several that resemble the final production car
The XD was available with 4 engine choices and 4 transmission choices, across 4 body styles,
with Engines being, 3.3L (200ci) Straight 6, 4.1L (250ci) Straight 6, 4.9L (302ci) Cleveland V8 and 5.8L (351ci) Cleveland V8...
with Transmissions being, 3spd Manual Column, 4spd Manual Floor, 3spd Auto Column and 3spd Auto T-Bar...
with Body Styles being, Sedan, Wagon, Utility and Panel Van...
(Not Including the Fairlane and LTD long wheel base luxury Falcon models)
My XD Falcon Modeling
Originally this project started as a conversion of the San Andreas Admiral model into what looked similar to the XD Falcon, after a bit of time, I attempted to make my own XD from scratch and while it was not looking that bad, the accuracy of it was a bit hit and miss due to a lack of references, using a lot of polys when I did not need to and trying to rush the model so I could get it in game, I continued working with it on and off also doing updates to the Admiral based model so I still had something to play with in game, until, early in 2016 I decided to go out myself and collect my own references, I then started off small by making a better model of my own straight 6 engine to use in the Admiral Model and once I got a good start on that I was inspired enough to begin building the XD again from scratch.
Like the last scratch model I made, my intentions are to make an XD Sedan as perfect as I possibly can and then from there see how I feel about making a Wagon or a Ute, perhaps a Fairlane/LTD as they are all identical from the B Pillar forwards and its from the B Pillar back the body changes, I might make the XD Sedan and then only do restyles to make it also into an XE or XF model, I could also spec the Basic Falcon sedan model up to a Fairmont Ghia, I'm not really planning that far ahead yet as lets see if I finish the GL Sedan First.
This is one of the latest sets of renders from September 17, 2016. Its showing progress on the wagon and the properly made front end with no parts on this modeled borrowed from previous models of mine.
Here is some of the latest renders from June 24, 2016, it should be noted that this render is a mock up to the make the model look more complete than it is, the Roof, Front Bumper, Headlights, Indicator, Grill and Wheels are taken from other XD Models I have made and wont be carried over to this model.
From Page 4 Onwards this model is featured, any posts between the start and then may not be relevant to the new scratch model.
Below this point in the post is some of the older progress things from this topic hidden in this spoiler tag.
Note: All Previous modeling in this topic, being the Admiral model converted into a Falcon and my first attempt at a scratch for this car are contained in this spoiler tag below for those that are interested. The New Version (V3 / Scratch Build 2) Starts at Page 4 onwards.